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Captain Kendra

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There’s a knock on her door.

Kendra swallows and looks up. She’s expecting – she’s not sure. Ray or Sara, maybe; they seemed nice. She wishes it were Carter, knocking perfunctorily before barging in without asking the way he always did, but it isn’t. He’s gone.

Just like Rip is gone, lost on the same mission in which they saved Carter’s body for proper burial.

It’s Snart.

She blinks, wipes her eyes.

“Can I help you?” she asks politely. The lessons of life as a barista…

“Crew’s a bit down and out now that Rip’s gone,” Snart drawls, coming in and letting the door swing shut behind him. “We need to get it together if we’re going to keep going.”

“And are we going to keep going?”

He raises his eyebrows. “Well, I lived through the 70s-to-2000s time period the long way through the last time around. It was okay, but, you know, not necessarily something I’d choose to re-watch if I had other options.”

Kendra finds a slight smile threatening to break through. He sounds so very droll about the possibility of being stuck in the past, like it’s some sort of minor inconvenience. It probably is, to him; he’s a criminal. He could make a living anytime, anywhere.

“Why did you come to me?” she asks before she thinks better of it.

“Because it’s your mission,” Snart says promptly. “Rip sold us on a pile of crap, remember? Saving the future, when he really meant saving his wife and kid?”

“That’s not crap,” she protests, even though she hadn’t exactly been happy to hear that she’d been recruited on a personal mission of vengeances instead of a heroic (sanctioned) rescue.

“All of us had reasons to join up,” he says. “But every single one of us knew that yours was to fuck up this Savage guy so he stops fucking you up.”

“That was Carter’s mission,” she says. “I don’t know how to do anything. I’m new; I just found out about this a few months ago.”

Snart shrugs. “So? I’m just a thief. Started out knocking over ATMs; now I’m internationally wanted supervillain known for stealing jewels and high-end artwork. Be all you can be and all that.”

Kendra slaps her hand over her mouth, but she’s too late to keep from snorting in laughter. “That’s terrible,” she tells him, unable to keep from smiling. “That’s not at all inspiring.”

“That’s some Disney made-for-TV shit right there, you kidding me?” he argues, but he’s smirking.

“But still,” she says, getting back to the point, even though her mind is temporarily distracted in wondering how exactly a Disney made-for-TV movie would handle the story of a young enterprising thief eventually fulfilling his life-long goals of supervillainy. Sadly enough, she’d probably watch that movie on repeat a few dozen times. “Why me? How can I possibly help?”

“The crew’s down, as I said,” he says, hopping onto her desk and kicking his feet idly. “Low morale, everyone’s upset, everyone’s aimless. Now that Rip’s gone, there’s no direction. But when we signed up, we signed up at least nominally to save something - well, everyone but Mick and me, anyway - and we all knew about your mission. Carter's mission, whatever. Way I figure it, no one’s going to argue if the weeping damsel in distress takes charge and insists we keep going.”

Kendra considers this for a moment. “Snart,” she says slowly, not without a slight amount of horror. “Do you actually live your life as if it were a Disney made-for-TV movie?”

“Hasn’t failed me yet,” Snart says breezily. “You’d be amazed at how quickly people fall into line when they hear their cues.”

“Life as Hollywood,” she says, shaking her head. The worst part about it is that she suspects he’s right. “We’ve been subliminally trained our whole lives to know what the expected narrative is.”

“That’s the ticket,” Snart says. “Since I ain’t interested in being stuck here and there’s no way in hell anyone on this ship’ll listen to me when I say jump, I go to the only legit damsel in distress I know.”

“You don’t really think…”

“C’mon, Kendra,” Snart wheedles. “You back my play, I’ll back yours. It’ll work out great.”

“I don’t know,” Kendra says doubtfully. “I don’t actually have any skills. I was just a barista before this, you know.”

“Even better,” Snart says. “You can make us coffee while we plot out how we’re going to put this mission back on track.”

“We?” she echoes, unable to keep from smiling. Carter’s militant presence, always giving orders, imbued with purpose and confidence that he was making the right choices over her wishes until she wanted to punch him in the face, seems very far away right now. She would never be able to do whatever it is that Snart wants her to do on her own, but she’s starting to think – with Snart’s help – she might be able to fake it.

Snart has that charismatic confidence that Carter always acted like he had, the one where you look at him and you believe you can do anything he says you can.

And, oddly enough, Snart seemed to want her to agree to his stupid scheme, like if she said no, really said no, he’d drop it and come up with another one that left her alone to her mourning. Carter had never been good at that part.

“Oh, I’d make the coffee myself,” Snart says breezily. “But even Mick says my coffee is too burnt to be drinkable, and when the arsonist starts complaining about things being too burnt, you know you’ve got trouble.”

Kendra starts laughing.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Listen,” she says to the collected group in front of her. “We stopped Savage from selling that nuke, we got Ray’s suit tech back, and the future is still on track. We lost Rip and –” she swallows. “– and Carter. But we’re not done yet.”

“I kind of think we are,” Sara says, her arms crossed, her back slumped, her eyes glaring. “We’re a bunch of nobodies, according to Rip, that he decided to pick up to save his wife and kids, which is pointless without him, and now we’re lost in time without him.”

“You signed up to this mission to stop Savage and save the timeline from an evil dictator,” Kendra says, crossing her own arms. “Not to help Rip. Carter and I have been killed by him two hundred and seven times. I don’t want to die this time, too.”

“We’re not going to let you die,” Ray says immediately. He’d been the one to save her from the knife fragments in her blood stream, along with Stein; he’s already invested.

Wow, that was actually just as easy as Snart said it would be. Ray really was the weak (or, as Kendra prefers to put it, the honorable) link in the chain.

She smiles at him and he grins back at her, back straightening a little.

(Over his head, Snart winks at her.)

“I think,” she says, looking around the room. “I think we can still defeat Savage.”

“Not that I’m not up for it,” Jax interjects, “but as far as I know, we’re still lost in time.”

“If I found a way for us not to be, would you all keep on with the mission with me?” Kendra says, looking in each and every one of their faces. “Or was your decision to keep going – to become Legends – just for Rip Hunter’s benefit?”

Slowly, one by one, all the heads nod (except for Mick who pinches the bridge of his nose like he’s got a headache, and looks suspiciously at Snart like he knows Snart’s got something to do with this – smart man).

“Great,” she says, smiling. She’s got this, at least for now. “Then let me remind you that we have a source of information for time travel which is just as useful as Rip Hunter. Gideon?”

“Yes, Ms. Saunders?” the AI’s voice pipes up.

“You can set destinations through the Timestream, correct?”

“Yes, Ms. Saunders.”

“And can you show us, I don’t know, a video or some training manual on how to drive one of these things?”

“I have several, Ms. Saunders,” Gideon says cheerfully. “Who would you like to be trained as the pilot?”

Kendra blinks. She hadn’t thought of that.

“I don’t see why we can’t all take the lessons,” Snart drawls. “Never know when you need to switch getaway drivers.”

“Not all of life can be categorized as a heist, Mr. Snart,” Stein tells him.

“You’d be surprised,” Snart says.

“No, it’s a good idea,” Sara says. “If we all learn a little, then whichever one of us is best at it can be the main pilot, but we’d all be able to do it if we needed to. We wouldn’t be reliant on one person.”

“There’s no reason not to share information,” Stein puts in. “The more educated people we have on board –” his eyes flicker towards Snart and Rory, who both ignore him. “–the better.”

“Maintenance,” Rory grunts.

Everyone looks at him.

“If we’re learning about piloting, we ought to learn ship maintenance, too,” he clarifies.

“My partner’s right,” Snart says, smooth as anything. “What if something breaks or we get shot at by that crew of Bounty Hunters that got sent after Rip? We’d be stuck if we didn’t know how to fix the ship – and I know that Jax here, at least, was able to make the jump ship work by reading the manual.”

“Ah yes,” Stein says disapprovingly. “Your little excursion.”

“Didn’t work anyway; take wasn’t worth it,” Snart says with a shrug, but the wrinkle Jax gets between his brows is one of worry and concern. Kendra might not be as smart as some of the people on board, but there’s nothing wrong with her EQ or her common sense: she’s going to have to get to the bottom of what happened on that little jaunt of theirs before they go much further.

She’s not going to let any stupid secrets get in the way of the mission. They had enough of that with Rip.

No, they’re going to do things differently, and for once in her life, she actually has exactly the right skill sets to make it work.

Not as a barista, no. As Kendra Saunders, three-time summer camp counselor and winner of most favorite counselor award three years running – from both the campers and her fellow counselors.

“Okay, guys,” she says, starting to grin. “Rip says we’re basically invulnerable here in the time pocket, right? It’s a place for repairs and for recollection. So we’re going to use the time we have, and we’re going to learn everything we need to know: about the time stream, about the ship, and about each other.”

Snart frowns a little at her at the last one, but hey, he wants her to be the stand-in captain? He’s going to have to live with the consequences of his choices.

“Rip kept secrets from all of us,” she says. “Lots of secrets, even when it was information that was relevant, even essential for us to know about, about his relationship with Savage, about the Time Masters, about everything.”

“Secrets that came back to bite us all in the ass,” Sara adds, nodding.

“So from now on, we’re going to be open and we’re going to communicate and we’re not going to have any secrets like that,” she declares, putting her hands on her hips.

“I don’t do sharing,” Mick puts in.

“I must admit, I’m not particularly interested in –” Stein starts.

“Gideon,” Snart suddenly says. “Is there any liquor on board?”

“Searching now, Mr. Snart.”

Everyone blinks at him.

Kendra frowns a little. Damnit, Snart, she thinks. You said you’d back my plays if I backed yours…

Snart looks around the room.

“Well,” he says. “If we’re going to be playing truth or dare and 'never have I ever' and sharing tragic backstories and whatnot, I sure as hell ain’t doing it sober.”

Kendra smiles.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Well, that was horrible,” Len says the next morning. He was definitely Len now, to all of them, except maybe to Stein; sure, he’d rather cleverly gotten around having to actually tell his backstory by having Gideon recite parts of his prison records, but honestly, that was bad enough. Nobody wanted the first person perspective on the subject. “Let’s never do that again.”

“Seconded, Leonard,” Stein says, head flat on the table.

“Whyyyyy,” Jax moans.

“Psssht, you’re all weaklings,” Sara says, fist-bumping Mick. They’d bonded over tales of drinking games and bar-fights past.

“I meant the feelings bit,” Len says, rolling his eyes.

“Yeah, let’s never do that again,” Sara says, nodding. “Ever. Sorry, Kendra.”

Captain Kendra,” Ray says, unable to keep from grinning.

Kendra puts her hands over her eyes. Maybe if she doesn’t look at them, they can forget the particularly intoxicated portion of the evening that involved her donning a Gideon-made pirate captain hat and a few rousing choruses of the song “yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.”

Maybe.

If she tries really hard.

“Here’s to Captain Kendra,” Jax cheers. Quietly cheers, given the general state of hangover.

Nope, they’re definitely never letting that one drop. Damn you, Pirates of the Caribbean!

Kendra idly wonders if she has any past-life experience being a naval captain. She kind of hopes so; it would be very useful. Thus far all she has are memories of that original life and a few feelings about Aldo Boardman.

“Where are we going?” Sara asks.

“I had Gideon analyze Boardman’s journal,” Jax puts in unexpectedly. “I figure she’ll be better at tracing patterns than we are.”

“Good thinking,” Len says.

Jax looks pleased with the praise.

“Looks like we’ve got our navigator,” Ray teases, punching Jax lightly on the shoulder.

Jax looks even more pleased.

“So, Gideon,” Kendra says. “Where to?”

“My analysis indicates that information on Savage will be found in the Pentagon in Washington DC, 1986,” Gideon says.

“Huh,” Mick says, frowning.

“What’s up?” Sara asks him.

“Nothing,” he grunts. “Just…something. A feeling.”

Len glances at him.

Mick nods.

“And in English for the rest of us?” Kendra says pointedly. Their odd disjointed language of gestures and eye contact was adorable, but not helpful under her brand new iron-fisted (and highly intoxicated) reign of open communication.

“Mick’s got good instincts,” Len says. “Sometimes it just takes time for the thoughts to come all the way up to the surface, s’all. He’ll tell us when he can.”

Mick nods.

Kendra could see that Ray and Stein looked puzzled – they’d probably never had to fight their own brains over the mere act of thinking – but she holds up her hands to forestall any questions. “Okay,” she says. “We need to get information on Savage from the Pentagon, which means we need to break into the Pentagon. Len, this seems like your field of expertise.”

“I don’t know,” Ray says. “How much does thieving really have in common with breaking into the Pentagon?”

“You say that like I don’t have experience breaking into the Pentagon already,” Len sniffs.

“He does,” Mick says. “We were so drunk.”

“Lisa’s 21st birthday,” Len says happily. "I don't even remember what it was she wanted from there."

“Wow, you make a lot of bad life choices when you’re drunk,” Jax observes.

“We make a lot of bad life choices period,” Mick corrects.

“I feel like that should be our ship motto,” Sara says. “The Legends: We Make a Lot of Bad Life Choices.”

“What the hell,” Kendra says. “Why not? It’s true, isn’t it?”

“Gideon,” Len says, his eyes glinting with pleasure. “Please pull up blueprints of the Pentagon.”

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Obviously we need to get them back,” Len says stiffly.

“We will,” Kendra assures him. He’s taking this hard.

They’d all agreed that in terms of on-call decisions during a fight, it was best to defer to Sara, who had the most experience with small-team tactical battlefield maneuvers out of all of them; Len’s experience being more aimed at infiltration and overall planning. Len had done his part and left with the core when he’d needed to, but he’s extremely upset at Sara having ordered him to leave his partner behind.

And now they’re short Ray, Stein, and Mick.

“We definitely will,” Sara says grimly. “We need to get into the gulag, and for that, we need information. Bratva information.”

“I like the way you think,” Len says, but no one is fooled by the smile he offers. The hard glint in his eye hasn’t gone away.

“In the meantime,” Kendra says, thinking, “Jax, you have that mental connection with Stein you told us about; could you tell him we’re on our way?”

“I can carve letters into my arm and he’ll see them,” Jax suggests.

“Do it, then get Gideon to heal it as fast as possible after you feel like he’s see in,” Len orders. “We don’t want Valentina or Savage to get wind of what we’re up to. Sara, you’re with me.”

“Do you need help finding a Bratva stronghold?” Kendra asks.

They both look at her pityingly.

“Right,” she says. “Not questioning the thief and assassin when it comes to mob stuff.”

“We’ll be right back,” Len says, and sweeps out.

Sara shoots them a thumbs up.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“I’m calling it a win,” Kendra decides. Her first as ship’s captain. “We got our teammates back, Valentina and her project are history, and we kicked Savage’s ass, even if I couldn’t get close enough to stab him personally.”

“Don’t forget we still need that knife to do it with, or something else from that era,” Sara says. “So keeping you away from him was definitely the best move here.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Kendra grumbles. She hadn’t enjoyed being forced to stay on the outside.

Mick grunts in solidarity. He’s oddly grouchy, but Len assured them it was just that he was still waiting for that thought he’d had to come to the surface.

“I lifted some vodka from the Bratva,” Len says, distracting them all by waving the bottle around. “Let’s celebrate a prison break well-done.”

“How does this always end with alcohol?” Jax asks.

“Legends of the Waverider: We Make Bad Life Choices,” Sara reminds him.

“You’re all bad influences on Jefferson,” Stein puts in.

“Says the guy who roofied him,” Ray teases. A few rounds with Gideon in the medbay had set him right as rain.

“That’s right, Grey,” Jax adds, grinning.

Mick give a shot glass filled with vodka to Ray. “We’re even now,” he tells him sternly. “No more feelings.”

“Sure thing,” Ray says, beaming at him and clearly not believing him in the slightest.

Sara punches Mick cheerfully in the shoulder. “C’mon, Mick,” she says. “If I can get over my bloodlust and not take the short-cut out – thanks, Len – then you can have more than one friend.”

“No, he can’t,” Len puts it. “Just me. Sorry. Slot’s filled.”

Mick cracks a smile.

“You need to learn to share,” Kendra tells Len.

“No kidding,” Sara agrees. “You can’t keep all this to yourself.” She gestures at Mick.

“Watch me,” Len says.

“Leeeeeeeen,” Ray whines.

“Fine, fine,” Len concedes, smirking. “Mick, this group of idiots is under consideration.”

“Under consideration!” Kendra says, putting her hands to her chest in mock-upset. “Mick, can you believe him?”

“I never do,” Mick replies, but he’s smiling. “You shouldn’t either. He’s a born liar.”

“I’m hurt,” Len says.

“Lie,” Jax says.

“I could be,” Len says.

“Shut up and drink, dorks,” Sara says. She holds up her shot glass. “To Captain Kendra!”

“You’re going to have to drop that sometime,” Kendra warns.

“Never,” Sara says.

“To Captain Kendra!” they all chorus and drink.

They only get one shot in before someone is shooting at them.

“Gideon!” Kendra yells. “I thought you said we were safe in the time stream!”

“We’re under assault from another time ship,” Gideon says. “They appear to have located us.”

“No kidding!” Len snarls.

“Get us out of the time stream, Gideon!” Sara orders, fighting her way to the driver’s seat.

“Sara, get us out of here!” Kendra orders, snapping out her wings for extra balance and helping a staggering Stein to his seat.

“Aye aye, Captain. Gideon, give me manual control. Everyone, strap in!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Well, that could have gone better,” Sara observes. They’re in what Gideon tells them is Starling City, 2046, but in an uncertain future.

“We crashed,” Ray says. “Oh, my beautiful baby, look at what she did to you…”

(He’d taken to the ship maintenance lessons like only a mechanical genius could, though he freely admitted that sometimes Jax’s common-sense solutions were far more useful.)

“We’re alive!” Sara protests.

“I’ll take the win,” Kendra says groggily. “Ray, Jax, can you work with Gideon to fix her up?”

“Can do,” Jax says.

“Of course,” Ray says. He blinks. “Wait, does that mean I’m Scotty? I’m totally Scotty!”

“Hey!” Jax says, poking at him. “If you’re Scotty, who am I?”

“Chekov, obviously,” Ray says. “You’re the youngest, and you’re the navigator.”

“I can live with Chekov,” Jax says. “He got all the girls.”

“Kendra’s Kirk, of course,” Len says, looking extremely amused. “Since she’s the captain, and since we seem to be going with TOS here.”

“I call Sulu,” Sara puts in. “Since I’m the best pilot-slash-helmsman and the best with swords.”

“What’s Len, then?” Kendra asks.

Len arches an eyebrow.

“Spock,” everyone choruses.

“I want to find Oliver,” Sara says. “I need to know what happened, and how to stop it.”

“Fine,” Kendra says. “But we do it on the way to getting the part Gideon says we need. Len, we need a plan.”

Len nods.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“So, it’s a trap,” Kendra says, staring at the distress call from the Acheron looping on her screen.

“Yes, very likely, but even taking that into account, we have to try to help.”

“What we need is for Len and Mick to go screw until they’ve gotten over the stupid fight they’re having,” Sara opines.

“Are they in a romantic relationship?” Stein asks blankly.

“They’re married,” Kendra says. “They told us that on day one.”

“I think I may have missed that.”

“You were very drunk,” Jax says, patting him on the shoulder.

Kendra rolls her eyes and pulls open the door to the cargo bay. “Mick,” she says.

“What?” he growls from where he’s pacing around. “Need me to go out?”

“Well, what I need you to make up with Len so we can get our planner and our muscle back,” she replies dryly.

“I’m an arsonist,” Mick growls. “Not a relationship therapist.”

“Oh my god,” Ray says. “You’re totally Bones!”

“What?” Mick says, distracted from the angry angsting routine they’ve all been treated to this past week.

“I’m arsonist, not a relationship therapist, damnit,” Ray says, beaming. “That’s totally a McCoy ‘I’m a doctor, not an insert-X-here’ line!”

“I always shipped Bones and Spock,” Sara says thoughtfully.

“Don’t be stupid,” Mick says, scowling. He had opinions on Star Trek, as they’d discovered when they’d watched a few episodes in the last few days of downtime. “They’re obviously in a polyamorous relationship with Kirk and the Enterprise, and – no offense, Kendra –”

“No, no,” she says hastily. “I’m focusing on me right now. Not that you’re not both very pretty princesses.”

“Besides, if anyone’s bagging Leonard, I call dibs,” Sara puts in.

Mick growls.

“You’d be invited, of course,” she tells him sweetly.

“Don’t you mainly like girls?” he says grumpily.

“About 80% of the time,” she admits freely. “But that still leaves 20% for guys, and Leonard is – how did Kendra put it – the prettiest princess.”

Mick’s lips were twitching into a smile despite himself.

“No,” he says.

“But you’re mad at him,” she whines. “Which means you’re not using him right now. And I've always wanted to sleep with Elsa! Lifelong dream here, Mick.”

“No means no, Birdie,” he says. "Also, that movie only came out three years ago."

“Ruin all my fun, why don’t you,” Sara says.

“Where is Len, anyway?” Kendra asks.

“Sulking about how all his plans seem to be going wrong recently,” Jax replies. “And Mick icing him out, of course. Didn’t even crack a smile at the pun when I made it; it’s gotten bad.”

Mick hums a little.

“Mick?” Kendra prompts.

“No, it is kinda weird,” Mick says. “We haven’t had a plan go wrong like the last few in a while, not without external interference.”

Kendra shrugs. “Yeah, well,” she says. “What could be interfering with us now? We’re travelling through time.”

“That’s it,” Mick says.

“What?”

“That’s it,” he says, suddenly excited. “Hold up, I need to get Lenny.”

He strides out of the room.

“…are we going to rescue that ship or not?” Ray asks. “Also, what just happened?”

“Not sure,” Sara says.

“Well, Snart’s become Lenny, so I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Kendra says. “As for the ship – yeah, let’s go. We’ll try to compensate for the fact that it’s obviously a trap by sending Sara, Jax and Stein in, plus Ray to drive the jump ship if you need a quick getaway.”

“The most under-estimated members of the group, I like it,” Sara says approvingly.

“Say,” Ray says. “If Mick is McCoy, does that means Stein is Uhura?”

“It’s the only major role left,” Jax says.

“The brilliant diplomat and linguist who also knows how to fix the ship and fight when necessary?” Stein says mildly. “It’s not science, but it’s certainly the next best thing. Regardless, Jefferson, if we’re going to go…”

“See ya, Cap,” Jax says, waving. “Landing party away.”

“I know we have a tractor beam,” Ray says to Sara as they head to the jump ship. “Do you think we have transporters?”

“I don’t trust ‘em anyway,” Sara says, her voice fading away.

Kendra shakes her head and settles into the captain’s chair. “Okay, Gideon,” she says. “Give me the rundown on this ‘Acheron’…”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“So according to the Acheron’s data, the next place Savage is likely to be is 1958, Oregon,” Jax says. “Weird, but sure.”

“Okay,” Kendra says. “Let’s go. Program in the destination, and –”

“We don’t want to do that,” Len says, striding in, Mick at his shoulder like nothing ever happened.

“We – don’t?” Ray asks. “Are you sure?”

“We went through a lot to get this intel,” Sara protests.

“Yes, exactly,” Len says. “That’s the problem. We went through just enough to get this intel.”

Kendra sits up straight. “Explain,” she says.

“Mick here’s noticed something weird with all the missions we’ve been on so far,” Len says. “We’re extremely unsuccessful, but usually not because of anything to do with our plans – which I should know, since I made ‘em –”

“I don’t know, we screw up pretty often,” Sara says.

“I account for that in our plans,” Len says. “Always do when working with a new crew. Everyone’s got strength and weaknesses, but a flipped coin doesn’t hit tails every damn time you try it, and even the shittiest crew has better luck than we’ve been having. We only need to flip heads once to finish our mission – and Savage – but nothing’s been working out. So what’s the point?”

“Hey,” Ray says. “Even if you don’t succeed, it’s still worth it to try. We’re trying our best to make a difference here.”

“Exactly, Haircut,” Mick says.

“Thanks, Mick,” Ray says. “Wait. Exactly what?”

“We’re making a difference,” Len says. “Every time we go somewhere in time, the timeline changes – just a little bit, nothing major, nothing we’d notice. But I had Gideon analyze it over the last few hours –”

“Was that what you were doing?” Jax says with a knowing smirk, nodding at the hickey one Len’s collarbone.

“We also discussed our partnership,” Len says, not without dignity. “All’s well there.”

Mick smirks.

Sara wolf-whistles.

“About time,” Kendra says, nodding in approval.

“If you don’t mind letting me continue,” Len says archly.

“You were telling us that Gideon was analyzing the timeline,” Stein says.

“All our actions have resulted in a slight adjustment of Savage’s timeline for conquest,” Len says. “He starts focusing on it earlier; he figures out that time travel is a thing – not hard, with Rip showing up just about everywhere and spouting off about his future family –”

“Don’t speak ill of the dead,” Kendra says automatically, even though she privately agrees that that was a seriously stupid mistake on Rip’s part. Has he never seen a time travel movie?

“Wait,” Jax says, frowning. “Wait. I think I get it.”

“You do?” Stein says. “I must admit that I’m still lost.”

“It’s a minor adjustment of the timeline,” Jax says. “Little tweaks that result in a bigger end result. Just like Rip said, the way you’re supposed to do the whole time manipulation thing.”

“Yes,” Ray says. “But Rip’s dead.”

“Rip is,” Len says. “The group that trained him, the Time Masters, ain't anywhere near dead.”

“You think we’re being used,” Sara says. Her voice is sharp.

“Yeah,” Len says. “I think the Time Masters were in on this from the start – not Rip, necessarily. I think Rip was honestly trying to save his family. But even in the small time I knew him, Rip was – emotional. He reacted on instinct, not on logic, no matter what he pretended.”

“They kill his family, he runs off, collects us, and we adjust the timeline for them,” Sara says. “Why do it so indirectly, though?”

“Remember how Rip said we were insignificant to the timeline?” Len says.

“Yeah?”

“Then how’d he find us?”

“What?”

“Gideon can’t find any record of any of us making a major impression on the timeline,” Len says. “This Gideon can’t, anyway, but if you’re being a paranoid bastard like me, you start thinking – Gideon’s a computer. Computers can only work with the information they’re given. Garbage in, garbage out – no offense, Gideon.”

“None taken, Mr. Snart.”

“Anyway, if the Time Masters knew Rip was going to run off once his family was killed and the Time Masters knew Rip, they’d probably know which ship he was going to take, too.”

They all go quiet, thinking of that.

“What did you find?” Kendra says.

“I looked up a future textbook about the Flash,” Len says. “Then had Gideon do a search for Mick and me. We appear dozens of times, apparently. I didn’t look to see what, but we’re there – we’re in a history book. That means, to my reckoning, that we ain’t really irrelevant to the timeline. And neither, I suspect, are any of you. Actually, if I had to guess, based on our little jaunt to 2046, our absence from the timeline was kind of the point, for them.”

“We’re causing more trouble than we’re solving,” Kendra says. “But how do they know – the ship?”

“I don’t think so,” Mick says. “I think the nav system’s fucked up, yeah, but you’ve got to feed information into a computer to get it wrong, and some of the stuff that’s gone wrong has been outside of the ship.”

“Like what?”

“Boardman,” he says.

Kendra frowns. “Aldo? What about him?”

“His notebook didn’t make sense,” Mick says. “Took me a while to figure out what struck me wrong about it, but I finally figured it out.”

Sara leans forward, eyes intent. “What happened?”

“1985,” Mick says. “How’s a guy from 1973 accurately predict where intel on Savage is gonna be in 1985?”

Len glances at Mick, pride shining in his eyes. “No one’s got instincts like Mick,” he says, sounding as smug as if it’d been his idea. “We all missed it.”

“What’s it mean?”

“I think they’ve got some method of tracking us – maybe the ship, maybe something else, like Mick thinks – and they’re following us through time to make sure we do what they want. They’re pulling our strings like puppets.”

“Gideon says the Time Masters’ home base is a place where time doesn’t work properly,” Mick says. “They call it the Vanishing Point. That’s where the bastards are.”

“So to defeat Savage –” Kendra starts.

“We’ve got to get through the Time Masters first,” Sara finishes.

“I’m in,” Jax says. “I don’t like the idea of being screwed around with – no, Grey, I’ve forgiven you already – by some bastards with an agenda.”

“There are no strings on me,” Len quips.

“Everyone strap in,” Kendra orders. “The 1950s survived Savage without our interference the first time around; they’ll survive him without us this time around, too.”

“Vanishing Point, here we come,” Ray says.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“It needs someone to stay here!” Ray calls, his hands deep in the guts of the Oculus.

“I’ll stay,” Kendra shouts back. “I reincarnate! Pick up one of my future selves, we’ll be fine!”

“No!” Ray says, horrified. “No – Kendra –”

He looks at her, and she swallows. She knows how he’s starting to feel about her, and she’d be lying if she wasn’t thinking about him sometimes, too. They hadn’t gotten anywhere yet – they were still just a ‘maybe’ – but –

“Your self-sacrificing gestures are all appreciated,” Len says. “But we’ve got to make a decision and the rest of us need to get out of here, if the boom’s gonna be as big as Boy Scout here says it’s gonna be.”

“I’m the captain,” Kendra says. “I’m going down with the ship, okay?”

She swallows, and thinks about it, but no, she really means it. Somehow, out of Kendra Saunders, barista, summer camp counselor, reincarnated Egyptian priestess, hawk-hybrid – somehow, out of all of that, she ended up becoming someone that she was pretty damn happy with.

Kendra Saunders, Captain of the Waverider.

She can die proud of that.

“Out of my way,” Mick roars, and they all turn to him. He’s got a limp Time Master in his arms.

“What’re you doing?” Ray asks, but Len’s already dashing forward, grabbing the Time Master’s arms.

“We’ve just found us a volunteer,” Len says, grinning maniacally. “Ray, position his hands.”

Ray does, and pulls back, blinking in shock as his stupid plan to sacrifice himself is abruptly taken away from him.

"Take Ray and go," Kendra orders Mick. "Tell Sara to take off - we'll be on your tail."

Mick nods and grabs Ray and tosses him over his shoulder, pelting at top speed towards where Firestorm is guarding the Waverider, Sara in position as pilot. No plan without a getaway plan; that was Len's first rule, and it'd served them really well so far.

Kendra holds the Time Master's arms in place.

Len aims his gun and fires, filling the entire inside of the chamber with ice, the Time Master’s hands frozen in place, the ice a solid barrier keeping anyone from interfering.

The Time Masters howl in rage and charge them.

Kendra spreads her wings and catches Len under his arms, taking to the air as fast as she can, strong wing-beats carrying them far quicker than any pair of legs, Len aiming his cold gun around them in a deadly stream of cold that slows bullets and freezes lasers and clears the path for them.

The Waverider's doors are closing, but there's a roof-side door, a service entrance, that's left open just a little bit longer - nothing anyone would notice, nothing that would make them vulnerable, but the perfect last-minute way in for someone with wings.

They tumble down into it, Kendra slamming it shut and shouting "Go!" but Sara's already putting them into jump.

The shockwave follows them into the time stream, knocking the whole ship head over tail, and Kendra clings to Len, ducking her head into his shoulder and wrapping her wings around him to protect his precious brain as they get flung around the ship.

At last, Sara wrenches the ship upright.

Kendra pulls away.

"I'm okay," Len assures her. "You?"

"Wing's a bit bent out of shape," she says, flexing it a little. "Help me preen later, we'll call it even."

She had never thought about preening her wings before Len had suggested it, never thought of it as anything more than a magic extra instead of as a part of her, but now she's addicted to the slick glide of oil through her feathers.

Ray volunteers often.

"Hey, guys," Jax says, poking his head. "With the intel we lifted from the Vanishing Point, I think that we might be able to save Rip, and his family, too."

"Really?" Kendra says, eyes wide. She hadn't been expecting that.

"Really," Jax confirms, and he's beaming.

"Well, then," she says. "I think we have our next stop."

"And then can we get on murdering Savage already?" Len asks a little plaintively. "I think I've had my fill of this hero business; I wanna get back to the murder part of the events."

Kendra pats his cheek. "Next step," she promises. "I'm looking forward to that part, too."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It is every bit as satisfying as she might've thought.

They kidnap Rip's bleeding body from Savage's clutches back in 1973, shoving it under Gideon's loving medbay lasers in stasis mode.

They grab the dagger from Savage's hideout in 2016, plus a bracelet that Kendra sees in a vision. She gilds the mace Carter gave her, and smiles.

They go to 2166.

Savage is about to kill Rip’s family.

The day before they arrive, lingering in the time stream, the whole team sits up late into the night – with a few drinks – brainstorming ways that they could save Rip’s family without messing up the timeline and causing Rip never to come and collect them; that way lies paradox.

Len buries his faced in Mick’s lap and lets the other man stroke his brow.

“He thinks better that way,” Mick tells them, only slightly defensively.

“I don’t know why Rip would come get us unless he saw his family die,” Jax sighs. “It’s a pretty strong motive, and we know he actually saw the bodies.”

“Pity we can’t swap someone else in like we did at the Oculus,” Ray says, resting his head on Kendra’s shoulder.

Kendra drapes a wing around him and smiles.

“Why not?” Mick asks.

“What do you mean, why not?” Sara asks.

“He means, why not?” Len says, sitting up, eyes glowing the way they’ve all learned means he has an idea. “Gideon – you’ve been able to regenerate injuries, even severe ones. Could you create, uh, hunks of meat in the shape of human beings, with the right DNA to be Rip’s family?”

“I am not able to recreate life,” Gideon says apologetically. “All attempts to use the body-duplication technology to do so have failed.”

“I don’t need them alive,” Len says. “I need two dead bodies and a hologram projector.”

They all look at him.

“Rip’s family doesn’t need to die,” Len tells them triumphantly. “He just has to think they have, for all the same actions to occur.”

“I like the way you think,” Sara tells him.

“That seems rather cruel,” Stein says.

“Think of how happy he’ll be when he gets them back,” Jax points out. “And no paradox. Those sounded pretty unpleasant.”

“Let’s do it,” Kendra says, and drops her free hand – the one not occupied in petting Ray’s forehead – to the ancient dagger that now lives in her belt.

And smiles.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Stabbing Savage is beautiful, beautiful catharsis.

Rescuing a future incarnation of Carter – brainwashed to be Savage’s servant, the poor boy – and reviving his memories is sort of an unexpected bonus.

“Kendra,” he says, staring into her eyes. “Oh, Kendra. I don’t know how I could have forgotten you, my goddess.”

…possibly a bonus. She’s not sure.

“Thanks, Carter,” she says, untangling herself a little. “Uh. Please have a seat? We’re going to go back to 2016 to make sure nothing’s gone wrong while we were missing.”

After that, well, they hadn’t fully decided.

“Yes,” he says. “And then we can live together, free from Savage at last. We can be together, free from strife – we can have children and watch them grow old together, together forever at last–”

“That’s an option,” she agrees.

An option.

One.

As in, one of several.

Committing ritual suicide is also, theoretically, an option.

They’re at about the same level of likelihood at the moment.

But hey, she’ll think about it. She’s young; she might want to have kids one day. Just, you know, not quite yet. Going from barista to warrior goddess to mother of a man older than her (oh, Aldo!) had been…weird. She’d been drifting, unsure of who she really is.

She likes who she is right now.

The next few days make very clear that Carter might have mixed feelings about it.

He tries to lure her to training with him; she declines, as she has to focus on developing strategic objectives regarding rescuing Sara’s sister with Len. Besides, Sara's much better at actually slowing down and explaining things instead of just assuming that Kendra's "warrior goddess"-ness would abruptly jump in and teach her everything she needs to know.

He tries to override her views on any number of issues, only to be totally ignored by the rest of the crew.

He tries to take away her mace because he's "better" at wielding it and she doesn't "need" it.

He thinks preening her feathers is gross and unnecessary.

He also thinks they should be having sex right now, because surely she realized how much she really loved him once he was gone, and you never know what could next come to separate them.

Kendra hides in Ray’s bedroom. “Tell me I didn’t say something that stupid right after he died,” she says.

“I could always lie,” Ray offers. “You wouldn’t believe me or anything, but I could try.”

“You’re the best,” Kendra says. “Question: how did I manage to have such bad taste in two hundred and seven lives?”

“Well,” Ray says, “he might not have been quite so, uh…”

“Bossy and self-centered and privileged as all hell?”

“…I was going for ‘like me a few months ago’,” Ray says. “But, uh, that works too.”

Kendra snickers. Instituting sparring sessions with Sara as the automatic punishment for saying something stupid and self-absorbed had been a good way to teach everyone a little lesson.

(Despite generally being okay on privilege issues, when Sara screwed up – sexuality issues and racial minority issues are not the same type of experience, thanks! – she’d gotten assigned a lecture by Len on the principles on accounting, which he could apparently do, straight-faced, for over three hours straight. Sara apologized to Kendra and Jax, promised to do better and also asked why in the hell Len knew how to do that. Len just laughed.)

“You know,” Ray says hesitantly. “We never – I mean, if you wanted to – he is your soulmate –”

“You know, I never really believed in soulmates, growing up,” Kendra says. “And then Carter swept into my life and he was so sure of everything, so I thought – you know, most girls aren’t lucky enough to get a literal sign from fate that this is the one for you. So I went with him. And you know what?”

“What?”

“As Len would say, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” she says. “I’m done being insane. I think it’s time to try something new.”

“Really?” Ray asks, and his hope is there in his eyes, unspoken but quietly wishing.

“Yeah,” Kendra says. “Really.”

She kisses him.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Waverider successfully rescues Laurel Lance and the team agrees – sans Carter – to continue on their journey through time.

“I love your necklace,” Kendra tells Amaya. “We can help you save your boyfriend. Vengeance first, though; otherwise whoever killed him might try again.”

“I love your wings,” Amaya tells her. “I accept your offer, Captain; I am under your command.”

“It’ll be good to have another girl on board,” Kendra says.

And she smiles.